Stranded passengers want to be reimbursed by airline for ‘nightmare’ trip back to Charlotte

Passengers were stuck in the Dominican Republic for days because of a mechanical issue. Now, two Charlotte women want American Airlines to pay them back for their trek home.
A proposed rule would make it so airlines have to compensate passengers if their flight is delayed more than three hours or canceled.
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 5:57 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte passengers say they were stranded for days in the Dominican Republic after their American Airlines flight was canceled multiple times. AA782 from Punta Cana was supposed to be back to the Queen City on 4 p.m. on Aug. 7. Instead, that flight was changed to AA9603 and arrived on Aug. 9.

Allison Moody mailed dozens of documents to American Airlines customer service later that week. In a three-page letter she details her frustrating attempt to get home from the Dominican Republic. She attached every confirmation, change and document to walk them through the stressful hours she and her friend Lauren went through.

“I mean it was honestly pretty terrifying,” Moody said.

Moody and her friend, Lauren Villa, were on a girls’ trip to the Dominican Republic. Their flights were supposed to leave from Punta Cana Sunday, but Moody’s was canceled. American Airlines says her flight, AA782, had mechanical issues.

“We were super stressed out because of the lack of communication from American Airlines,” Moody said. “We thought we had no other choice than to book a flight on Delta to Atlanta and then drive home from Atlanta.”

In all, the change of plans cost both women more than $3,000.

“We just want to be reimbursed for what we had to spend to get back the United States,” Moody said. “We understand things happen and things get delayed but this is something different.”

CBS News Senior Travel Adviser Peter Greenberg says this summer has been extraordinarily bad.

“It’s way out of the norm. You know if you take a look at cancellation rates by major airlines, you might have a 1% factor. We’ve been up to four or 5% [this summer],” Greenberg explained.

American customer service told Moody it could be up to 7 to 10 business days before she gets a response. In the meantime, she was offered 15,000 American Advantage miles, worth about $200.

In addition to the money spent to get home, Villa said she also had to arrange childcare for her daughter, who she was supposed to pick up Sunday night. Both Moody and Villa missed a day and a half of work.

WBTV reached out to American who said they are pushing Moody’s letter up to customer service. A spokesperson said passengers were given hotel accommodations and meal vouchers while the plane was repaired from Sunday until Tuesday. They will also be provided goodwill compensation.

“American Airlines Flight 782 with service from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ) to Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) was delayed Sunday, August 7 due to a mechanical issue. Following repairs, the aircraft departed for CLT on Tuesday, August 9. We never want to disrupt our customers’ travel plans and apologize for the inconvenience,” a statement from an American Airlines spokesperson read.

Both Moody and Villa said it was nearly impossible to get that information and communicating with airline representatives at the airport was difficult. At one point they say a representative told them they were no longer answering questions.

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